Michigan’s latest commitment – Detroit Cass Tech running back Mike Weber – was a big pledge in its own right.
The No. 103 overall player and No. 10 running back nationally is a key piece to Michigan’s future on the field. He’s also big for what he represents when it comes to the Wolverines’ in-state recruiting efforts.
The top player in the state for 2015, Weber represents a perfect 3-for-3 for the Wolverines at the top of the Rivals.com rankings when it comes to closing down the border. U-M has recruited in-state very well since Brady Hoke arrived in Ann Arbor, but never this well.
Weber is the first No. 1 overall player in the state to become a Wolverine since fellow Technician William Campbell, a defensive tackle in the 2009 class. Along with No. 2 overall, Saginaw Heritage wide receiver Brian Cole (who will contend with Weber all season for top in-state honors), and No. 3 overall, Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone, U-M currently has commitments the top recruits in the state.
In the 2014 class, Michigan landed three of the top seven in-state players, but missed on the top two, Southfield defensive lineman Malik McDowell (MSU) and Cass Tech’s Damon Webb (Ohio State), a cornerback.
It was even more impressive in 2013, with six of the top ten in-state players pledging to U-M but, again, U-M missed on the top player, Midland offensive lineman Steve Elmer. In 2012, Michigan landed eight of the top 12, but Farmington Hills Harrison wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (MSU) and Flint Powers defensive tackle Danny O’Brien (Tennessee, though he did not hold a Michigan offer) escaped their grasp at the top.
Even in the transition year between Rich Rodriguez and Hoke in 2011, Michigan landed four of the top seven, but none of the top three (Detroit Renaissance linebacker Lawrence Thomas to Michigan State, Saginaw wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett to Tennessee – though he has since transferred to Michigan State – and West Branch Ogemaw Heights defensive lineman Anthony Zettel to Penn State).
With Weber in the fold, Michigan has finally continued its strong in-state recruiting while also ensuring its ability to add the cream of the crop from the top of the in-state rankings. The next step for the Wolverines will be to flip the script on the field as well, ending Michigan State’s run of dominance with wins in five of the last six games between the two squads.
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the Rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @TimS_Wolverine.